30 Dec
2011

Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

*Henry's Pick*

There is nothing more thrilling to me than a great young adult series and this one has me riveted.These books are so much fun that I was shouting and pumping my fist in the air as I read them alone in my house. Suzanne Collins has mixed 1984, Battle Royale, Twilight, and Project Runway into a thrilling series that reminds you of all of those elements, and none of them at the same time. She matches a gripping, well-crafted story with a contemporary eye for political allegory that most of today’s authors have neglected. These are the exciting kind of books where you cant put down the one you are reading, and can't wait to pick up the next one.

30 Dec
2011

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut

*Ryan’s Pick*

Standing outside the courthouse with a roll of toilet paper and a marker Eliot tears off a square and hands it to each person that happens by. On each square are these words: “I love you.” And he means it. Eliot Rosewater is either the greatest philanthropist or the craziest man-child to ever live in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s fantastic mirror of Earth.  With a multi-million dollar bank account and an open heart, Eliot Rosewater (reprising a small role from Vonnegut’s acclaimed Breakfast of Champions) manages the hardships of the people of Rosewater County, Indiana with the gusto and comic timing that only Vonnegut can produce. Despite a severe drinking problem and what appears to be an unstable mind, Elliot wins over the hearts of complete strangers  while losing the respect and friendship of his father, wife, and friends.
Other than his first novel (Slaughterhouse V) Vonnegut professed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater to be his favorite of all the books he wrote. If you want science fiction don’t buy this book. If you want to meet the most intriguing and complex characters ever created then there is no better way to spend the weekend than by curling up with this novel of human compassion, misunderstanding, and unreserved love – done only the way Vonnegut can.

30 Dec
2011

Beauty by Robin McKinley

*Kristen's Pick*

I read Beauty when I was in eighth grade, and have read it at least once a year since then.  This book taught me about romance.  The romance of language, and that love can come in very unexpected forms.  It also introduced me, (in a very non-threatening way) to authors such as Rudyard Kipling, Sir Walter Scott and Edmond Spenser.  Beautifully and elegantly written, this is a book for people who have poetry in their souls.

30 Dec
2011

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

*Marlie’s Pick*

Shel Silverstein’s classic is a simple yet incredibly touching tale. This has been my favorite story since childhood and continues to be so today.  It constantly amazes me that Silverstein can use so few words and simple black line drawings to provoke so many emotions - I cry every single time I read this book!  This classic is all about the ‘gift of giving‘ - how truly content it makes the tree to see the boy happy.  Reading The Giving Tree is like the joy it brings to watch someone open the perfect Christmas gift! (and the beauty is you don’t have to wait until December!)

30 Dec
2011

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

*Customer Pick: Lauren*

The Time Traveler's Wife is the best love story I have ever read.  It is also the only book  I have ever reread in it's entirety immediately upon finishing it. While I reread books all the time, of course, this is the only one I have ever needed to devour again as quickly as possible. The love story is neither hokey nor sappy at all and the characters got so deeply under my skin that I couldn't shake them for months. I wanted to know them, or I guess, to be them. I will not reveal much about the plot here because it'll sound impossibly gimmicky, I will assure you instead, that the author handles her premise with so much astonishing intelligence that you will go back and forth many times to try to string it all together. In fact, you may want to buy 2 copies: 1 to read and 1 to cut and paste in linear chronological order. Or, for now, just buy one. I envy anyone who has not read this book and still has it to look forward to.

30 Dec
2011

Scruples by Judith Krantz

*Kristen's Pick*

This was the first adult (and then some) book I read.  Adult themes, adult language ,and very adult situations.  Larger then life (well my life, anyway) fascinating characters, and a riveting dual storyline that will suck you in from page 1, Scruples is the consummate trashy beach read.  (Even if your beach is at Sandcastle).

30 Dec
2011

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

*Mya's Pick*

Sixteen people are invited to the reading of eccentric millionaire Samuel W. Westing’s will.  Depending on how they play the dangerous and tricky game he’s cooked up, they could become millionaires. A classic from my middle-school days - this is one of those books that I forced on my friends if I had learned that they somehow made it to high school without having read it. Full of cleverly laid clues and a wonderfully inventive ending, The Westing Game is pure fun.  A hint for the reader: pay CLOSE attention to any clue you are given.  They are your only hope in solving the mystery.

30 Dec
2011

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon

*Andy's Pick*

I am straddling the divide between the comfortable insulation of college and the weighty responsibilities of adulthood like Art the narrator in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The story follows the narrator, Art, as he travels around the city trying to uncover pieces of his burgeoning adult identity. Art’s sexuality, in particular, has garnered a disproportionate amount of critical attention, but the narrator’s dynamic with his mobster father, superficial friendships, and relationship with the city itself are all pieces in the puzzle that is Art‘s life. After all, I never thought aimlessly cruising through Shadyside, Oakland, and Squirrel Hill could make for such an engaging novel until I moved to Pittsburgh and saw the mysteries of the city for myself.